Hello, and welcome back to The Autistic Writer. I hope you’re all well. Me, not so much. This week’s blog post might end up being a bit shorter than usual (but hopefully just as lively as ever) as I’m not feeling particularly well, just now. I’ve been struggling with a physical health issue for a while, and just hoping it would go away. It’s isn’t going away. It’s got to the stage where I had to contact my GP, and after briefly explaining my symptoms was shocked to be offered an actual face-to-face appointment in a few days. For readers outside the UK, let me explain that throughout the pandemic, it has been nigh-on impossible to actually see a GP here. I don’t know whether to be pleased or worried. I guess I’ll find out. On with the blog…
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Over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed what seems to be an increase in social media activity from neurotypical people talking about autistic people as if we are burdens to them. Maybe I’m noticing it more since I forced myself to watch Amazon’s car crash of a TV show about people “with autism”, As We See It. In the final episode of this show, there is a horrific conversation between Lou, father of autistic man Jack, and Van, the brother of autistic woman Violet. When Van mournfully asks if it (being related to an autistic person) gets any easier, Lou sagely informs him it’s “a hell of a burden”. Seriously, I could puke.
There’s disturbing stuff happening online in this vein, and while I don’t want to give too much oxygen to it, it has to be talked about. Here’s one thing that caught my attention:
Oh, woe to the parent of an autistic child, who might fail in a relationship… but at least they can always blame it on their autistic child, right?
Going to the Twitter profile of Lynette, we see she is proudly boasting of being an international autism expert. Gosh, aren’t we impressed! Well, no, we’re not. I’m even less impressed that she appears to be claiming three of her children have “recovered” from autism. This seems to be implying autism is an illness, which pretty much every health authority in the world disagrees with. But hey, Lynette’s an expert, right? Right?
I felt the need to expand upon my reply, above, with some additional detail via my Facebook page:
When I talk about the dehumanisation of autistic people by certain neurotypicals, I’m not being melodramatic. I mean what I say. All too often, we autistic people are not treated as human beings, but as product enticements or plain old burdens to our families, loved ones, or society in general. As far as being people with our own agency, feelings, and desires goes, autistic people are effectively rendered invisible.
Interlude: A brief message
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Of course, the notion that autistic people are less than human, existing only as burdens, is provably and demonstrably wrong. The world is and always has been populated with autistic people who have made great contributions to society: Scientists, entrepreneurs, actors, writers, artists, you name it. And this is common knowledge; there are many famous autistic people being successful in various fields. So how can this myth of the burdensome autistic person also be extant? It’s like there’s some kind of mass cognitive dissonance at work. And cognitive dissonance is not sustainable. The autistic community is fighting hard for acceptance in society, and every time we speak about it, write about it, tweet or post about it, we are edging closer to acceptance. But there will always be dark forces aligned against us. Typically, these dark forces are people from the autism community – not to be confused with the autistic community. There is a difference. Let me explain…
The autistic community is made up of autistic people; you guessed it, we are actually autistic. The autism community is something different: it is made up of people who have an interest in autism. Usually, either directly or indirectly, these people have a financial interest in autism, or are being adversely influenced by the people with financial interest. They are psychiatrists or psychologists specialising in autism, or so-called therapists hawking ABA as an answer to autism, or charlatans offering “cures” and “treatments”. Or they are warrior parents keen to defend their autistic kids at all costs while tweeting, posting, blogging or vlogging about how brave they are for bearing up under the autism burden. Or they are celebrities who chose autism “charities” such as the hated Autism Speaks as their hill on which to die. Or they are simply good people who have been misled. Within this autism community are some truly malevolent figures who are hellbent on making sure society remains afraid of autism, ensuring there will always be a market for “therapies”, “treatment” and “research”, thus keeping the money flowing. And these people have hit on a way to resolve the cognitive dissonance that occurs when neurotypical society sees autistic people exercising their agency and contributing to culture, whilst simultaneously being told how burdensome autistic people are. The answer from the autism community and their dark lords is: subgroup the autistic people! Categorise us! The famous, beautiful or celebrity autistics are lured into the autism community, and told they can be ambassadors, while the “lesser” autistic people are fenced off as the ones that are nasty burdens, who need “treatment”. What kind of evil bastard could be behind such a nefarious plan? Maybe we should see what Simon says…
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Simon Baron-Cohen is, of course, an easy target, partly because he is so high-profile, and partly because he keeps spouting such utter nonsense as “we should only subgroup to benefit autistic people”, while ignoring the fact that the autistic community utterly reject subgrouping.
But Baro-Cohen is not alone. I remind you once again of the worldwide multi-billion-dollar industry that is based entirely on perpetuating the myth that autism is bad, and autistic people are a burden. It goes from the puzzle-piece trinkets being sold on Amazon and elsewhere, through the fake healers and so-called therapists, all the way to the world-famous psychiatrist (knighted by the Queen, no less!) Baron-Cohen and his ilk, who are getting rich and famous from it. Whenever you come across any claim or opinion about autism from someone who isn’t autistic, ask yourself where does the money come into it?
That’s all for this week. Until next time, take care, be good, stay proud.
Why Do I Write This Blog?
When I first found out I was autistic, I was a middle-aged adult and I knew nothing about autism. I quickly learned that there was a serious shortage of information and resources for adults in my situation. With this blog, I aim to inform about autism and autism-related issues as I learn, hopefully helping people who are on a similar journey of discovery. Like anyone who writes a blog, I want to reach as many readers as possible; if you like what I’m doing, please share it with your friends and followers. I will never hide this blog behind a paywall, but running the website does incur costs. If you would like to support, feel free to make a small contribution at BuyMeACoffee.Com.
You might also be interested in David Scothern’s blog, Mortgage Advisor on FIRE, which covers a range of topics including mental health issues and financial independence.